There is always profit to be made in war; and the war in Ukraine is no different.
The warmongering weapons manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin, Rheinmetall, Raytheon, and BAE Systems, will not spare any casualties if there is a profit to be made. The blood of war fuels the profits of the bourgeoisie, so much so that they will push the propaganda that “Ukraine can win” and ignore all questions raised about peace talks.
Even in Ukraine the national bourgeoisie takes advantage of the war and the predicament of their working-class citizens. In March, wartime legislation was passed that gave the capitalist class of Ukraine all the advantages to begin removing rights for workers throughout the country. This legislation severely curtails the ability of trade unions to represent their members and introduces the “suspension of employment,” meaning that employees are not fired but their work and wages are suspended. This leaves workers in a limbo of not knowing when they will be working again.
Under Ukraine’s wartime suspension of certain labour rights, the management of New Post—Ukraine’s largest private postal service and once a flagship for good working relations between unions and management—revoked thirty points of the collective agreement with the union. These included providing workers with uniforms, the availability of a first-aid kit in the work-place, and regular working hours, among others.
This is part of a plan among Ukrainian members of parliament to “de-Sovietise” the country. While the term is blatant propaganda, what the new law seeks to do is to set workers’ rights back to before the socialist revolution. Under a draft law, people who work in firms up to those classed as medium-sized—those with up to 250 employees—would be removed from the country’s existing labour laws and covered by individual contracts negotiated with their employer.
More than 70 per cent of the Ukrainian work force would be affected by this change. It is entirely in favour of the bourgeois class, and in effect it would allow employers to set any terms with employees. This is something that the members of parliament have been waiting for, and the war with Russia has given them the ability to do so, with many workers and union members on the front lines of the war, unable to protest.
According to Vitalyi Dudin, a representative of the Social Movement organisation and an expert on labour law, Ukraine’s civil law is based on the idea that employers and employees are equal. This is not the case, however, as the employer has the advantage. These new laws have introduced the possibility of millions of people being forced into unemployment or temporarily losing their job for an unknown length of time, which results in essentially the same.
While the Ukrainian government attempts to profit from the war with anti-worker legislation, NATO governments have also begun raising military expenditure, fuelling the corporations that profit most during war times. For example, America’s military expenditure last year amounted to $782 billion, having been $778 billion in 2020. The United States accounts for 39 per cent of global military expenditure—more than three times that of China and more than twelve times that of Russia.
NATO was excessively over-armed during the Cold War, and it continues to be today. Germany has increased its expenditure to 2 per cent of the country’s GDP, up from 1.4 per cent in 2020, as well as a one-off payment of €100 billion. This has made Germany NATO’s second-biggest spender, overtaking Britain.
The military industry has produced a boom in profits from this mass expenditure, with Lockheed and Raytheon shares up by 16 per cent and those of BAE Systems up 26 per cent. These profits will only grow as the American war machine has begun turning our heads away from Ukraine and Russia to China and Taiwan.
The United States has a history of waging a cold war against China and is now agitating against China by showing support for Taiwan’s independence. America’s official attitude on Taiwan is the one-China policy, which states, “The PRC is the sole legitimate government, and Taiwan is part of China.” With military bases in Japan and South Korea, the United States has an advantage against China if a war were to break out.
But even with this information, and with rising tensions around the world caused by imperialism, we must not despair. Antonio Gramsci said: “I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” We must understand the issues and problems of the world, but we must also have the will to change them.
The workers have the power, and they have the means, to bring real change to the world.